by Andrew Ellingsen, DCSD Instructional Coach
Each year, the 7th Grade team at DMS picks a theme. Something inspirational, something with enough depth and openness to come back to time after time throughout the year. This year’s theme is “Ignite Your Inner Spark.” Although the phrase was initially chosen from one of the back-to-school videos staff watched during PD, it’s taken on a life of it’s own this year.
At the beginning of the year, signs designed by 7th grade ELA teacher Mrs. Storhoff were already hanging on every student’s locker to trigger questions.
Students spent time in science class researching types of personalities. They identified their own personality traits and discussed ways to work cooperatively with other personality types. As part of the discussion, the teachers shared that the 7th grade team did the Real Colors test and that there is a WIDE diversity of colors in staff. Students and teachers talked about how having that diversity of personalities in the classroom is good for them -- they have to adjust to the teachers, just like they’ll have to adjust to other employers in the future.
The next phase of the year-long theme is about to roll out. Several teachers saw inspirational speaker Joe Beckman at the KPEC conference last year. Mrs. Henry stayed in touch with him following the conference, and when she shared the 7th grade theme with him, he was hooked!
The 7th grade team has found having a central theme to be a great motivator for students. It gives them something consistent to circle back to throughout the year, and it helps frame the year in a positive light. Mrs. Casterton commented, “We can’t make students do things, but we can really challenge them to figure out what does make them want to do something.”
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